10 Thing You Didn’t Know About Nicotine
We all know and have heard of the dangers of smoking tobacco. For many of us, the dangers of smoking and tobacco usage have been instilled in us through public education, commercials, billboards, doctors and more. However, as many traditional cultures indulge in the occasional use of nicotine, as well as utilize the Nicotiana plant as medicine, we decided to do some research, some of which may surprise you. Note: We are in no way advocating smoking or tobacco usage. We are only hoping to do some investigation Nicotiana properties and locate discoveries which have been publically announced and demonstrated through scientific efforts.
- Alzheimer’s: Acute nicotine administration has been reported to improve some Alzheimer’s symptoms, such as recall, visual attention, and mood (Lopez-Arrieta and Sanz 2001). The plausibility of this effect is supported by studies of Alzheimer’s disease patients showing deficits in cholinergic systems and a loss of nicotinic binding sites (Whitehouse et al. 1982).
- Parkinson’s Disease: In animal studies, researchers use the chemical 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) to induce parkinsonian features. MPTP is converted by MAO-B into the neurotoxin c 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+) that destroys dopaminergic neurons. In rodent and primate studies, researchers have found nicotine administration to be partially protective against MPTP-induced damage.
- Spark Creativity: A study demonstrates that tobacco smoking produces widespread bilateral neocortical increases in dominant alpha EEG frequencies consistent with the stimulant effects of nicotine on the brainstem reticular activating system.
- Pesticide: Tobacco is a natural insecticide. If you are a farmer or grow a garden you may purchase tobacco-based pesticides to kill pests.
- Tobacco vs Cigarette Processing: The tobacco industry once disclosed a list in 1994 to congressional investigators that cigarettes contain in addition to nicotine, over 599 additional additives. Familiar to many, due to anti-smoking propaganda, we know that cigarettes, in addition to tobacco, contains arsenic, carbon monoxide, lead, DDT, propylene glycol, formaldehyde, cadmium, cyanide and many other toxic ingredients. However, interestingly enough, there is no scientific evidence in the past 30 years that shows that Nicotine alone causes cancer. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, “There is insufficient data to conclude that nicotine causes or contributes to cancer in humans…” ()
- Tobacco comes from Nicotiana: Nicotiana is an herbaceous shrub indigenous to many regions throughout the world. It is a member of the nightshade family which also includes tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. You can purchase seeds to grow your own tobacco plants, many which are advantageous to gardens as a pest deterrent and produce beautiful flowering blooms.
- Nicotine Has Both Stimulatory Effects on the Immune System: Nicotine can act directly on cells, but in vivo, it is also a direct activator of the sympathetic nervous system, which itself can have strong immune-regulatory effects” (Laan et al. 2004; Bauer et al. 2008). This highly contradictory literature is further reinforced by studies on human immune effector cells linked to atherosclerosis where nicotine was found to stimulate, not suppress, dendritic cells as part of adaptive immune responses (Aicher et al. 2003).
- Traditional Medicinal Uses: Traditional medicinal uses for this plant range from treatment of painful menstruation, to pulmonary disorders, snake bites, asthma, indigestion, rheumatism, bronchitis, and pneumonia.
- Nicotine Increases the Sensitivity and Duration of the Brain’s Rewards System: Nicotine causes nerve receptors in the brain to release dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Nicotine also debilitates the chemical GABA which inhibits dopamine release for an extended period after administration. In lab rats, nicotine’s excitement of the brains rewards system lasted 36 days after the nicotine was administered. This may be part of the reason nicotine is considered one of the most addictive substances on earth.
Easton, John (March 28, 2002). “Nicotine extends duration of pleasant effects of dopamine”. The University of Chicago Chronicle 21 (12).
Kenny PJ, Markou A (Jun 2006). “Nicotine self-administration acutely activates brain reward systems and induces a long-lasting increase in reward sensitivity”.Neuropsychopharmacology 31 (6): 1203–11. doi:10.1038/sj.npp.1300905.PMID 16192981.